Linux

How to set up OpenVPN on Linux Mint

How To Set Up OpenVPN on Linux Mint

This guide describes the steps taken to set up the free OpenVPN service on Linux Mint and create a toggle switch in the Network Connections applet to simplify its use.

A VPN connection toggle switch circumvents the need to launch the OpenVPN service by typing a command in a terminal window. Additionally, multiple VPN networks can be added to the Network Connection applet as desired, to manage all your VPN networks effectively.

Linux Mint VPN Network Connection using the free OpenVPN service

Linux Mint VPN Network Connection using the free OpenVPN service

In brief, the steps required are:

  1. Visit vpnbook.com and download the free OpenVPN Certificate Bundles to your computer.
  2. Install the OpenVPN network daemon, network management framework and OpenVPN plugin core using Software Manager.
  3. Create a VPN network connection using one of the downloaded OpenVPN Certificates.

1. Download the free OpenVPN Certificate Bundles to your computer.

Free OpenVPN is the best and most recommended open-source VPN software world-wide.

Visit vpnbook.com/freevpn and download one or more Certificate Bundles appropriate for your needs.

Also, make a note of the Username and Password that are displayed beneath the list of certificates.

The Certificate Bundles are provided in a compressed file and need to be extracted. Go to your download folder and right-click the downloaded zip file. Select Extract Here to unzip the files quickly inside your download folder.

Right-click and select Extract Here

Right-click and select Extract Here

At this point, you may want to create a dedicated certificate folder in which to store all your extracted certificates.

2. Install the OpenVPN software.

Launch Linux Mint Software Manager from the Menu and enter your password when prompted.

Select Software Manager from the Linux Mint menu

Select Software Manager from the Linux Mint menu

In the Software Manager search field, type openvpn.

Search for openvpn in Software Manager

Search for openvpn in Software Manager

If the following packages are not installed, install them using the Software Manager interface:

  • Openvpn | Virtual private network daemon.
  • Network-manager-openvpn-gnome | Network management framework (openvpn plugin gnome gui).
  • Network-manager-openvpn | Network management framework (openvpn plugin core).

3. Create a VPN network connection

Click the Linux Mint Menu button and type network in the search bar. Select the Networking Configuration Manager.

Select Network

Select Network

Add a new connection by pressing the plus symbol beneath the list of available networks.

Add a new network connection

Add a new network connection

Select VPN from the Add Network Connection options.

Select VPN from the options

Select VPN from the options

Select Import from file…

Import from file...

Import from file…

Navigate to your certificate folder, chose a certificate (.ovpn file) and press Open to import that file.

Chose a certificate file

Chose a certificate file

A User Certificate, CA Certificate and Private Key are extracted from the vpnbook certificate file and stored on your computer. File locations can be obtained by clicking the folder icon adjacent to each file.

Enter the username and password in the appropriate fields and press Add to complete the Add Network Connection process.

It is important to note that the username and password are case sensitive.

Add username and password

Add username and password

The new network connection will now be visible in the Networking manager. It can be enabled and disabled in the Networking manager to test the connection.

Connection added to Linux Mint Networking Manager

Connection added to Linux Mint Networking Manager

Most connection failures will be due to an incorrectly typed username or password. To edit a network configuration, select the network by left clicking it in the list, then press the crossed spanner and screw driver icon in the Networking manager.

Upon confirmation of connection success, close the Networking manager window.


How to use

Left click the network icon (located at the bottom right of the Linux Mint task bar) to see a summary of available networks and those currently connected.

Linux Mint Network applet

Linux Mint Network applet

Use the toggle switch to enable or disable VPN Connections.

If you have multiple VPN connections configured, the one in use will be shown at the top of the list with a bullet point to its left.

To connect to a different VPN network, use the Network Settings option to return to the Networking configuration manager. Enable and disable VPN connections there.

Note that the vpnbook password is changed frequently. If you find that a previously working vpn configuration fails to connect, visit vpnbook.com and obtain the new password. Then make the appropriate change in the configuration as described in step 3.

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How To Install CPUMiner in Linux and Mine for ZiftrCOINs

How To Install CPUMiner in Linux and Mine for ZiftrCOINs

This article shows you how to install cpuminer-ziftr on a Linux distribution in order to mine ZiftrCOINs with a CPU.

Tested on Xubuntu 14.04.4 64 bit.

Requirements:-

  • A ZiftrCOIN-Qt Wallet installed on either a Windows PC, Linux  operating system or Mac.
  • A ZiftrCOIN receiving address.
  • A computer running a Linux distribution of your choice.

1. Open up a terminal window.

In Linux open a new terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T on the keyboard.

2. Update your computer and install dependencies:

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade -y

sudo apt-get install -y git curl unzip gedit automake autoconf dh-autoreconf build-essential pkg-config openssh-server screen libtool libcurl4-openssl-dev libtool libncurses5-dev libudev-dev

3. Visit the Github Repo: https://github.com/ZiftrCOIN/cpuminer-ziftr taking particular note of any build instructions that are required.

4. Download CPUMiner for ZiftrCOIN by cloning the repository.

Click the icon circled in red to copy the exact address of the CPUMiner ZiftrCOIN repository to your clipboard.

Grab the GitHub Address

Grab the GitHub Address

The address at the time of writing is shown below in red and you may need to replace this with the contents of your clipboard if this has changed by the time of reading.

cd ~

git clone https://github.com/ZiftrCOIN/cpuminer-ziftr.git

5. Check the CPUMiner Ziftr folder name.

List the contents of your home directory by typing:

ls -l

Locate the cpuminer-ziftr folder, taking note of its name.

cpuminer-ziftr Folder Name

cpuminer-ziftr Folder Name

If it differs from the one shown in red in the next command, make the appropriate change in step5.

5. Compile, make and install CPUMiner for ZiftrCOIN mining:

cd ~/cpuminer-ziftr

chmod +x autogen.sh

./autogen.sh

Now check the build instructions on the git repo page (as described in step 3). You need to look for the Linux configuration details to configure CPUMiner for ZiftrCOIN:

CpuMiner ZiftrCOIN configuration details on GitHub

CpuMiner ZiftrCOIN configuration details on GitHub

In this case:

./configure CFLAGS="-O3"

make

Finally, complete the installation with:

sudo make install

6. How to mine with CPUMiner-ZiftrCOIN in Linux.

At this point it is now possible to start mining for ZiftrCOINs with cpuminer.

Enter the cpuminer-ziftr folder:

cd ~/cpuminer-ziftr

For help using CPUMiner-ZiftrCOIN, type:

./minerd -h

The options for CPUMiner will be displayed.

CPUMiner ZiftrCOIN | minerd -h

CPUMiner ZiftrCOIN | minerd -h

To start mining for ZiftrCOINs straight away, type the following command to begin pool mining at ziftrpool.io, replacing the red prompt with your ZiftrCOIN Wallet receiving address.

./minerd -a ziftr -o stratum+tcp://ziftrpool.io:3032 -u <your Ziftrcoin wallet receiving address> -p x
ziftrpool.io | ZiftrCOIN mining pool

ziftrpool.io | ZiftrCOIN mining pool

You can, of course, modify this command to mine wherever you like.

7. Where can I find my Ziftrcoin Wallet receiving  address?

Open your ZiftrCOIN wallet, and click File > Receiving addresses…

Your receiving address(es) will be shown in the table.

If you are setting up multiple mining rigs, you may find it beneficial to create new receiving addresses in your ZiftrCOIN wallet for each of your machines and the type of mining resources employed.

For example, a second machine running Linux, mining with the cpu and gpu could have separate ZiftrCOIN receiving addresses from your main Windows mining rig. That way, when the virtual ZiftrCOINS come rolling in, you’ll know exactly where they have come from . This will assist in monitoring the effectiveness of each mining machine and its components.

8. Create a batch file to start CPUMiner and mine for ZiftrCOIN.

Creating a batch file simply automates  step 6. Typing just one command will start CPUMiner mining for ZiftrCOINs.

The name shown in blue will be the command to type that will start the cpu mining process. Make this something memorable.

cd ~

gedit ziftrcpu

In the window that opens, copy the following commands to it, making sure to correct / replace anything shown in color if needed.

#!/bin/bash

cd ~/cpuminer-ziftr

./minerd -a ziftr -o stratum+tcp://ziftrpool.io:3032 -u <your Ziftrcoin wallet receiving address> -p x

Click Save and exit the editor.

Now make the batch script executable:

chmod +x ziftrcpu

Running the batch script is easy. Just make sure that you are in your home folder

cd ~

A listing of that directory shows you batch file in green:

ls -l
Mining batch script

Mining batch script

To run it, just type it’s name preceded with a dot and a forward slash.

./ziftrcpu

To terminate the batch script, press Ctrl + C.

9. Install SSH for remote login.

If you wish to log into your Linux computer remotely,  install the open ssh server:

sudo apt-get install openssh-server byobu

Then log in to it using ssh from another Linux machine or PuTTY from your Windows PC.


ZiftrCOIN Donations: ZY3NkLnWSbpWwXi5fN3P6h1k6ZRWrUaWJu
Track and Field

How To Install MAME On Linux Mint

How To Install MAME On Linux Mint

This guide shows you one of the ways to install the MAME arcade emulator on Linux Mint and then configure it to point at your ROM folder path.

This tutorial concludes with the installation of a mame graphical user interface frontend called Gnome Video Arcade, which improves the selection of your favourite games.

Prerequisites:

  • Linux Mint (Although this is a similar procedure for Ubuntu).
  • Your compatible arcade ROMs.
  • A few minutes to complete the installation and configuration.

1. How to Install MAME on Linux Mint

1,1 Launch the Linux Mint Software Manager by clicking on the Menu button and selecting it from the list. Enter your administrator password when prompted.

1.2 Type mame into the search bar and press Enter on your keyboard.

Search for MAME in the Software Manager | Linux Mint

Search for MAME in the Software Manager | Linux Mint

1.3 Select mame – Multiple arcade emulator (mame) and then Install it.

Install MAME | Linux Mint Software Manager

Install MAME | Linux Mint Software Manager

2. How to Configure MAME on Linux Mint

2.1 Open up a Terminal command window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T

2.1 In the terminal window, type the following command exactly to edit the MAME configuration file, mame.ini. Enter your administrator password when prompted.

sudo gedit /etc/mame/mame.ini

2.2 Look through the configuration file and locate:

# Default data search paths
rompath
Alter the rompath Parameter to Point to Your Rom Folder

Alter the rompath Parameter to Point to Your Rom Folder

Change the rompath parameter to point to your ROM folder.

Here, I have opted to store my ROM files inside a hidden folder in my Home directory(*). The dot that precedes the folder name mame indicates that this folder is hidden.

Similarly, make the appropriate changes to point mame to your ROM artwork and sample folders if you have them.

Note (*)To toggle the visibility of hidden files and folders in a directory listing, press Ctrl + H.

2.3 Continue to scroll through the configuration file.

If you have more than one CPU core then it is beneficial to enable multithreading. At the multithreading parameter, delete the zero and replace it with a one to switch this function on.

Likewise, other MAME features can be enabled in this part of the configuration file by replacing zeros with ones. For example, MAME can be instructed to start in a window instead of full screen mode.

Remember: 0 (zero) = Disabled | 1 (one) = Enabled

MAME Configuration File - Multithreading | Linux Mint

MAME Configuration File – Multithreading | Linux Mint

2.4 Save the configuration file.

Save your changes to the mame.ini configuration file by pressing Save. Then close the editing window.

Save Changes to the mame.ini Configuration File | Linux Mint

Save Changes to the mame.ini Configuration File | Linux Mint

3. How to Run MAME in Linux Mint

3.1 MAME can be run in a number of ways:-

  • In a terminal window, type mame and press Enter.
  • Menu > Games > MAME™ Arcade Emulator
MAME | Linux Mint

MAME | Linux Mint

4. How to Add Gnome Video Arcade to MAME on Linux Mint

The GNOME Video Arcade application allows you to play classic coin-operated arcade games on your GNOME desktop using the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME).

GNOME Video Arcade provides the following features:

  • Play classic arcade games on your Linux desktop.
  • Tag favourite games to find easily.
  • Read historical information and tips about your favourite games.
  • Game recording and play back.
  • Searching.

4.1 Back in Software Manager, type mame in the search bar then select gnome-video-arcade (Simple mame frontend) and install it.

gnome-video-arcade | MAME Front END GUI | Linux Mint

gnome-video-arcade | MAME Frontend GUI | Linux Mint

4.2 To launch the Gnome Video Arcade mame frontend:

  • In a terminal window, type gnome-video-arcade and press Enter.
  • Menu > Games > Gnome Video Arcade
Gnome Video Arcade (MAME Frontend) | Linux Mint

Gnome Video Arcade (MAME Frontend) | Linux Mint

4.3 The first time that the Gnome Video Arcade runs, it will scan your game folder to check the integrity of your ROMS. If any are found  not to be compatible with your version of the mame emulator, you will be notified and those games will be struck from the list of those available.

Updated ROMS should be sought for compatibility.

Errors Detected in ROMs | Gnome Video Arcade

Errors Detected in ROMs | Gnome Video Arcade

4.4 Having obtained compatible ROMs the game library will need to be rebuilt. To force a rebuild of the game library, in a terminal window type:

gnome-video-arcade -b

How to Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu

How to Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu

This step-by-step detailed guide illustrates the way to install VirtualBox in Ubuntu and then install Windows 7 within a virtual machine to run seamlessly with the Ubuntu desktop. This allows software designed for Windows to run alongside Linux-based programs.

The main benefits of this – over having a dual booting system – are speed and convenience.  You won’t have to wait for either operating system to  shutdown before you boot into the other, nor will you have to save and close down work before re-boots.

Steps Covered:

  1. How to install VirtualBox in Ubuntu.
  2. How to create a virtual machine with VirtualBox and install Windows 7.
  3. How to install Windows Guest Additions CD Image.
  4. How to integrate Ubuntu and Windows 7 desktops, seamlessly.
  5. How to share files and folders between Windows 7 and Ubuntu in VirtualBox.
  6. How to install software on the virtual machine.
  7. Adobe Lightroom running in Ubuntu via seamless integration with a Windows 7 virtual machine.

Requirements:

  • A reasonable PC.
  • An Ubuntu operating system.
  • A Windows 7 installation ISO file and activation key (1). Remember! A 64 bit version is best for computers that contain more than 3GB RAM.
  • Ample hard disk space to accommodate a new operating system.
  • Plenty of time and no distractions.

(1) – Almost any operating system can be installed within a virtual machine, provided you are able to obtain the correct ISO file. This guide details the installation of Windows 7 (64 bit).

Terminology: The Difference Between Host and Guest Operating Systems.

The host operating system is the operating system on which you install VirtualBox. In this case, Ubuntu. And Ubuntu will host the guest operating system, Windows 7.

1. How To Install VirtualBox in Ubuntu

1.1 Select the Ubuntu Software Centre Icon and in the search field, type virtualbox.

Ubuntu Software Centre | VirtualBox

Ubuntu Software Centre | VirtualBox

1.2 Select VirtualBox (Run several virtual systems on a single computer) and then click Install. You may need to enter your administrator password.

Ubuntu | VirtualBox Install

Ubuntu | VirtualBox Install

1.3 Once installed, close the Ubuntu Software Centre.

1.4 Click the Ubuntu Unity ‘Start’ icon and type virtualbox in the search bar. Select VirtualBox to run it. The Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager window will open.

Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager

Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager

2. How To Install Windows 7 in VirtualBox

2.1 Open the Oracle VM VirtualBox Manager as described in step 1.4, then select New.

2.2 In the Name field, enter a description that best describes your virtual machine and guest operating system. If you specify what your guest operating system actually is, the Type and Version fields alter to match automatically. If they do not, ensure that you select the correct type and version before proceeding and clicking Next.

VirtualBox | Configuration for Windows 7 (64 bit)

VirtualBox | Configuration for Windows 7 (64 bit)

2.3 Move the slider to select the amount of memory (RAM) you want to allocate to your guest operating system. The more RAM you make available the better, but be careful not to starve your host operating system of memory.

VirtualBox Memory Allocation for Guest Operating System

VirtualBox Memory Allocation for Guest Operating System

2.4 Create a virtual hard drive now.

Create a Virtual Hard Drive Now | VirtualBox

Create a Virtual Hard Drive Now | VirtualBox

2.5 Choose the VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image).

Create a VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)

Create a VDI (VirtualBox Disk Image)

2.6 Select Dynamically allocated.

Create a Physical Hard Drive | Select Dynamically Allocated

Storage on Physical Hard Drive | Select Dynamically Allocated

2.7 Choose a reasonable amount of storage space for your guest operating system. Take into account the space needed for the operating system itself and the size of the programs you wish to install on it. Since we have opted for Dynamically allocated disk space in step 2.6, the size of the virtual hard drive will grow as more data is written to it, up to the maximum specified here. This maximum cannot be altered later, so chose wisely.

VirtualBox Hard Drive Size

VirtualBox Hard Drive Size

2.8 Click the Create button to complete the main configuration of your virtual drive.

2.9 Your new virtual machine will be shown in the Oracle VM Manager. Right click that drive and select Settings…

Right Click New Virtual Drive and Select Settings

Right Click New Virtual Drive and Select Settings

2.10 If you see a warning triangle and Invalid Settings Detected then click the warning box to address the highlighted issues.

2.11 Go to System and select the Processor tab. If your computer has multiple CPU cores, you can stipulate here how many cores will be dedicated to your virtual machine and guest operating system.

VirtualBox | Select the Number of CPU Dies for your Virtual Machine

VirtualBox | Select the Number of CPU Dies for your Virtual Machine

2.12 Select Storage and the Empty CD icon beneath Storage Tree. Under Attributes, select the CD/DVD Drive location icon and select Chose a virtual CD/DVD disk file…

Select your Windows Operating System ISO File

Select your Windows Operating System ISO File

Navigate to your Windows installation ISO file and Open it. The ISO file will then be shown underneath the Controller: IDE. Click OK. Effectively, this step inserts your Windows installation disk  into your virtual machine. Your virtual machine will boot from this when it is first switched on.

2.13 You are now ready to start your virtual guest machine for the first time. Click Start.

2.14 If you receive an error regarding VT -x/AMD-V, it means that you do not have that type of hardware acceleration enabled in your BIOS. At this point you will need to re-boot your computer and enter the BIOS system to enable it. Not all BIOS systems are the same. You will need to look for this setting. It is generally found under the Performance or Virtual Machine Monitor headings.

BIOS Virtualization | Dell System XPS420

BIOS Virtualization | Dell System XPS420

2.15 When your virtual machine runs for the first time, it will begin to install the operating system that you specified in step 2.12.

Ensure you select Custom (advanced).

Installation of Windows 7 (64 bit) in VirtualBox

Installation of Windows 7 (64 bit) in VirtualBox

And then select the unallocated space you created as a virtual drive.

Unallocated Space for Windows Installation | VirtualBox

Unallocated Space for Windows Installation | VirtualBox

2.16 Install your Windows operating system.

3. How To Install Windows Guest Additions

3.1 With the guest operating system installed and booted to the Windows desktop, maximize the VirtualBox window to make it full screen. Notice that the Windows environment does not rescale when you do this. We need to install something called Guest Additions in the Windows system to enable this. Hover the mouse pointer over the top menu bar to reveal the VirtualBox menu. Select Devices > Insert Guest Additions CD Image…

VirtualBox will check your host system to see if you already have the appropriate Guest Additions CD Image downloaded for your guest operating system. If it cannot be found you will be prompted to download it. Click Download.

VirtualBox Guest Additions Download Prompt

VirtualBox Guest Additions Download Prompt

And then confirm the download.

VirtualBox Guest Additions Confirm Download Confirmation

VirtualBox Guest Additions Confirm Download Confirmation

3.2 When the Guest Additions CD Image has been downloaded, you will be asked: “Do you wish to register this disk image file and insert it into the virtual CD/DVD drive?”.

Click Insert.

Register & Insert Guest Additions CD Image File

Register & Insert Guest Additions CD Image File

The Guest Addition CD Image is then made accessible through the Windows virtual CD drive. Navigate to Windows START > Computer to view in Windows explorer.

VirtualBox Guest Additions | Windows Virtual CD Drive

VirtualBox Guest Additions | Windows Virtual CD Drive

3.3 Double-click the CD Drive (D:) VirtualBox Guest Additions icon and launch the VBoxWindowsAdditions application by double-clicking it. Hit Yes when asked, “Do you want to allow the following program to make changes to this computer?”

Oracle VM Virtual Box Guest Additions Set Up

Oracle VM Virtual Box Guest Additions Setup Wizard

3.4 Work through the installation process by clicking Next and Install if asked for permission to install device software. Re-boot the guest operating system when prompted to do so.

4. How To Integrate Windows 7 and Ubuntu Desktops

4.1 When the guest operating system re-boots, you should notice that resizing the VirtualBox window also resizes the Windows desktop too. This demonstrates that the Windows Guest Additions are working properly.

4.2 To integrate the guest environment with the host operating system (i.e. integrate Windows 7 with Ubuntu, seamlessly), hover your mouse over the top menu bar to reveal the VirtualBox menu and select View > Switch to seamless mode. To switch back, move your mouse to the bottom centre of the screen to access the guest operating system menu.

Alternatively, you can use the quick-key combination of host-key + L to enable and disable seamless mode. The host-key default is the right control key. Right Ctrl + L.

Seamless integration means that the Windows task bar is accessible at the bottom of the Ubuntu desktop and both Linux and Windows programs can be run side by side.

Seamless Integration of Windows 7 with Ubuntu | VirtualBox

Seamless Integration of Windows 7 with Ubuntu | VirtualBox

 5. How To Share Files and Folders with VirtualBox

5.1 The installation of Windows Guest Additions should allow drag and drop functionality between the host and guest operating systems, either one way or bidirectionally. By default, this function is disabled. In the VirtualBox menu, select Devices > Drag’n’Drop > and your direction preference.

5.2 The clipboard can also be shared between host and guest operating systems in a similar manner. Select Devices > Shared Clipboard > and your direction preference.

5.3 Devices > Shared Folders Settings… allows the sharing of host folders with the guest operating system in order that files can be shared between them.

VirtualBox | Shared Folders

VirtualBox | Shared Folders

To add a new folder for sharing, click the add folder icon on the right. At the drop down menu entitled Folder Path, select Other… then navigate to your designated folder and click Open.

Before adding the share, you are given the opportunity to provide a name for the shared folder, make it read-only and auto-mount it. Tick Auto-mount then OK. Click OK to exit the settings menu.

5.4 Shared folders are shown as network shares in the guest operating system.

Network Shares | VirtualBox

Network Shares | VirtualBox

In Windows 7, START > Computer > Network > VBOXSVR to access your shared folders.

6. How To Install Software on the Virtual Machine

To install software on your guest operating system you have a number of options:-

  • Use the browser of the guest operating system to download the software and install it from the appropriate download folder.
  • Make an ISO file of the installation CD/DVD and have that available in a shared folder on the host operating system as described in step 5.3.
  • Make an ISO file of the installation CD/DVD and mount that in the same manner as described in step 2.12.
  • Enable Drag’n’Drop and move files accordingly.
  • Use the Shared Clipboard to Copy files from the host to the guest operating system.

7.  Adobe Lightroom Running in Ubuntu via Seamless Integration with a Windows 7 Virtual Machine

Adobe Lightroom Running in Ubuntu | VirtualBox

Adobe Lightroom Running in Ubuntu | VirtualBox

Once your virtual machine is running with folder shares, it is quite easy to start testing various types of software.

See Adobe Lightroom 6 working in Ubuntu.

To get Adobe Lightroom installed I shared two folders with the virtual machine; one that contained the installation files and a second that contained my photographs. I installed Lightroom from the Network Share described in step 5.4.

Photographs were imported into Lightroom’s Library by adding the second Network Share to Folders.

J1nx Linux XBMC Firmware on a G-Box Midnight

XBMC Linux on a GBOX Midnight – J1nx or Static?

The G-BOX Midnight has received a mixed reception in terms of it’s advertized capabilities and its ability to run XBMC on an Android platform with acceptable performance. Certainly, the purported output of 1080p is a moot point. And every version of Android XBMC that I tried  had one problem or another; mainly audio out of sync with video, and choppy playback of HD content. Thank goodness for the Linux XBMC versions then, courtesy of static and J1nx.

Flashing the G-BOX Midnight with any flavor of Linux XBMC negates the Android operating system-bloat and allows the device to boot straight into XBMC. And for me, this is a real benefit. With the supplied remote, it’s near-on impossible to  navigate the Android Home screen with any sort of speed and dexterity. Trying to find the  XBMC icon and then click on it is a major undertaking.

I have tried the static and J1nx versions of Linux XBMC on the G-BOX Midnight v2.2 and this is what I found:

static XBMC Linux v0.2 beta

  • Very good playback of HD content. Fluid playback. No dropped frames.
  • Menus very responsive.
  • Remote fully programmed.
  • CPU usage relatively low (compared with Android versions).
  • Audio sync issues – audio out of sync with video by 125ms (average).
  • WakeOnLan add-on did not work.

J1nx XBMC Linux beta2

  • Excellent playback of SD and HD content. Playback is smooth. No dropped frames.
  • Menus very responsive.
  • Remote fully programmed.
  • CPU usage relatively low (compared with Android versions).
  • Every add-on I’ve installed works.
  • It rarely goes wrong. It’s extremely reliable.
  • Everything works as it should! This is the version I’ve kept.

My Installation

I bought the G-BOX Midnight to fuel a wall-mounted TV I put in my kitchen. An aerial connection to the TV would have resulted in unsightly wires running up the wall. Plus, I wanted the G-BOX to supply everything to the TV; live tv, recorded tv from my MediaPortal server, and everything else that XBMC can supply.

Mounting the TV

Fitting the TV Bracket Wall Anchors

Fitting the TV Bracket Wall Anchors

TV Mounted on the Wall

TV Mounted on the Wall

G-BOX Midnight Attached

G-BOX Midnight Attached and Running XBMC – TV Catchup

As shown above, I have the G-Box Midnight connected to the internet via a Home Plug and Ethernet connection, normally all tucked away behind the TV. I’ve not tried it’s performance with a wireless connection.

It plays HD video content across my home network flawlessly; both 720p and 1080p encoded files. It plays live TV too via the TV catchup add-on. And with J1nx’s version of XBMC, sound is perfectly in sync with video. A problem that was really annoying me with the Android versions.

This is good little, unobtrusive, low-powered unit that delivers the goods now that I’ve found the right firmware to suit me.

A Quick Demonstration of J1nx XBMC Linux beta2

This video depicts the boot time of my G-BOX Midnight v2.2 running the J1nx Linux beta2 firmware. It takes approximately 1min 15 seconds for XBMC to be ready and responsive.

And because of this, I leave the G-BOX switched on at all times so it’s available for immediate use when the TV is switched on. The difference in power consumption between the off and on states is negligible – unless you unplug the transformer when you’re not using it.

The first demonstration is  the playback quality of a 720p HD video, streamed over my LAN. There are no dropped frames and playback is fluid.

The second demonstration is Shoutcast radio.

And to finish off, BBC 1 via TV Catchup. Near-live TV without an aerial.

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD Dual Tuner Card Review

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD Dual Tuner Card Review

The TBS6280 DVB-T2 Freeview HD dual tuner is a low / high profile PCIe x1 card that generates mpeg transport streams at hardware level to enable the playback and recording of free-to-air Freeview HD and standard definition channels. Driver support for Windows and Linux means that this card can be used with many of the popular, free-source, Home Theatre software packages such as MediaPortal, Argus TV, TVHeadEnd & MythTV. It’s an excellent piece of kit for any HTPC enthusiast.

TBS 6280 Dual DVB-T2 Freeview HD PCIe x1 Tuner Card

TBS 6280 Dual DVB-T2 Freeview HD PCIe x1 Tuner Card

What it does

Hardware Transport Stream Generation

The TBS 6280 DVB-T2 tuner card has two tuners to receive free-to-air, terrestrial digital television broadcasts and convert that data into a MPEG transport stream (MPEG-TS, MTS or TS files) for immediate playback or storage. Effectively, the transport stream is a format container for multichannel audio, video & subtitles. It uses error correction data to preserve continuity when the broadcast signal is weakened. And since all this is done in the hardware, there is negligible loss of your PC’s resources. The dual tuners have good sensitivity, which means better reception for those in poor reception areas.

Simultaneous Multichannel Recording

Terrestrial digital television services are transmitted  on multiplexes (or Mux) and many stations can occupy a single broadcast frequency.

Since there are two tuners in the TBS 6280, it can receive the broadcasts from two multiplexes at once. This means that it is possible to watch and / or record more than two channels at once, provided that the chosen channels occupy the same two multiplexes.

I receive broadcasts  from the Mendip transmitter where channels are assigned to the mulitplexes shown below:

Mendip Mulitplexes & Channels (17/09/13)

Mendip Mulitplexes & Channels (17/09/13)

So, for example: recording all the HD channels simultaneously would utilize just one of the tuners, leaving scope to watch or record channels from one other mux with the second tuner.

Since our favorite channels span just two multiplexes, there is rarely a time when a programme cannot be scheduled to record because there is no spare tuner.

What it does not do

The TBS 6280 tuner card plays no part in the final reproduction of the transport stream. If you experience micro-stutter, dropped frames or degraded picture quality the items responsible will be your choice of codecs and / or the hardware of your PC.

What’s in the box?

  • TBS 6280 DVB-T2 dual tuner card PCIe x1
  • Low profile bracket for conversion
  • Remote control and infra red receiver
  • A mini in-door aerial
TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Dual Tuner Card: Box Contents

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Dual Tuner Card: Box Contents

TBS 6280 Physical Installation

  • The card is packaged with a low profile bracket and swapping it with the supplied taller one is relatively straight forward.
  • Fitting the card into an available PCIe x1 slot is a breeze. It couldn’t be easier.
  • This card boasts a RF IN and RF OUT connector (aerial pass-through). Fantastic news for those people with just one aerial connection at the back of their TV sets. My aerial connects here, then I use a connector cable to supply the RF signal to my TV. There seems to be no apparent loss in signal strength at the television by connecting in this way.
  • As my installation was part of an upgrade, I opted to continue using my more versatile, Windows Media Center remote instead of the one supplied. And as for the in-door aerial: it may work if you happen to live next door to the transmitter.

TBS 6280 Driver Installation

How to install the TBS 6280 driver – Windows

Visit the download section of tbstv.com by clicking here.

Download the Windows Driver set-up program; run it and install the appropriate driver for your operating system (XP/Vista or Win7).

Once installed, you have the option to install bundled software such as TBSViewer and TBSVHID Tool. Don’t bother with these unless you intend to use them.

There is no requirement to re-boot.

How to install the TBS 6280 driver – Linux

These directions are based upon the driver revision v130909. Visit the download site to ascertain the current revision and make that substitution if necessary.

You will need the unzip program installed. This can be obtained through the Software Centre application.

Launch a terminal window then type each line followed by ENTER:

mkdir driver
cd driver
wget http://www.tbsdtv.com/download/document/common/tbs-linux-drivers_v130909.zip
unzip tbs-linux-drivers_v130909.zip
tar xjvf linux-tbs-drivers.tar.bz2
cd linux-tbs-drivers

Depending on which version of Linux you have (x86 or x64), you will have to identify the correct driver to install from those just created from the above uncompression.

Type:

uname -a

Then depending on the output, select the correct driver for your operating system.

  • for x86 kernel 3.x (x86 32 bit installations of kernel 3.x): ./v4l/tbs-x86_r3.sh
  • for x86 kernel 2.6.x (x86 32 bit installations of kernel 2.6.x): ./v4l/tbs-x86.sh
  • for any x86_64 kernel (x86 64 bit installations of Linux): ./v4l/tbs-x86_64.sh

Then, type the following to install the correct driver for your system. This example shows the installation of the x64 bit driver. Substitute the highlighted file path and file name with the one appropriate for your system.

sudo ./v4l/tbs-x86_64.sh
sudo make && sudo make install

When complete, reboot so the driver can take effect.

sudo shutdown -r now

TBS 6280 DVB-T2 Review

I have set TBS 6280 DBV-T2 tuner card up and had it working with various combinations of operating systems and HTPC software. And it has performed flawlessly; waking from the PC’s sleep state without problems and never missing a recording.

The Good Points:

  • Dual tuners with good sensitivity
  • Receives terrestrial, free-to-air, Freeview SD & HD channels
  • Ability to watch and / or record multiple channels simultaneously, from two multiplexes
  • Works in Windows and Linux
  • The developers, TurboSight, seem committed to Linux as drivers are continually revised
  • Low profile option for media center PCs
  • Aerial pass-through
  • Wakes from PC sleep state without problems

The Bad Points (And these are minor bad points):

  • The Linux drivers are not open source
  • There is no infra red remote driver available for Linux, so the supplied remote will not work. However, Windows Media Center remotes work as normal.

OVERALL SCORE 5/5

The Codecs I Use for Windows Playback

With the right selection of codecs, both SD and HD video are crisp and vibrant while playback is smooth and faultless. I use the LAV filters in Windows, available with the installation of MediaPortal or separately here, at Sourceforge.

Not only is the video codec the best, but the LAV audio codec resolves a lot of the problems associated with audio playback on the Freeview HD channels. If you’re having problems with your set up, try these codecs out.

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